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Human Rights Developments

During 1994 government intolerance of criticism continued to threaten Kenya's shaky return to a multiparty system. Opposition supporters were required to obtain licenses to hold meetings, but were routinely denied such licenses and arrested if meetings were held without them. Political trials were held of several prominent figures, and mysterious attacks took place on opposition Members of Parliament's (MP) private homes. The right to freedom of expression was threatened by the arrest and charging of a number of journalists in connection with articles critical of the government. The government was particularly sensitive to allegations of involvement in rural violence in Rift Valley Province and continued to deny access to journalists or human rights monitors to the affected areas. Despite plans announced in June 1993 by Attorney General Amos Wako to look into the need for law reform, no attempt was made to amend or repeal repressive legislation. The lack of an independent judiciary remained a serious problem in political cases.

The Kenyan opposition remained divided between two factions of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD), FORD-Kenya, and FORD-Asili, and a third party, the Democratic Party (DP), largely along ethnic or regional lines. Although the death in January of Oginga Odinga, leader of FORD-Kenya and member of the group that led Kenya to independence, ended a period of rapprochement between FORD-Kenya and the government, it did not lead to greater union in the opposition. Several unsuccessful efforts were made during the year to set up cross-party or cross-regional alliances; and pledges not to run competing candidates at bye-elections, made at the launch of the short-lived "United Democratic Alliance" in June, were not honored. The ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) of President Daniel arap Moi successfully won over several MPs representing opposition parties, allegedly with significant financial inducements, and increased its majority in parliament.

Opposition MPs were regularly harassed during the year. Under Kenyan law, the organizer of a meeting must apply in advance for a license from the district commissioner of the area in which the meeting is to be held. Licenses to hold meetings in their constituencies were denied to many MPs during the year, and a number of gatherings that were held were forcibly broken up by police. In March the home of FORD-Kenya MP Anyang' Nyong'o was attacked by armed men, killing his uncle. In other cases, the government continued to use the justice system to silence critics and punish political opponents. A number of MPs were detained for short periods and in some cases charged with political crimes such as subversion. Former MP and political prisoner Koigi wa Wamwere, an outspoken critic of Moi's government, was brought to trial in April with three others, on charges of attempted robbery with violence. Wamwere was alleged to have taken part in a raid on a police station in November 1993, but claimed to have witnesses that he was several hundred miles away at the time the raid occurred. An observer attending the trial on behalf of the International Bar Association concluded that "procedural anomalies" would result in a "miscarriage of justice." The trial is continuing.

A number of other political trials took place in 1994 involving political leaders, journalists and other government critics. In March charges of contempt of court were brought against prominent lawyer and former chair of the Law Society of Kenya G.B.M. Kariuki, and Bedan Mbugua the editor of The People (a weekly newspaper owned by Kenneth Matiba, the leader of FORD-Asili), together with the company publishing The People and David Makali, a journalist at the newspaper. The charges were brought in connection with an article in which Kariuki was quoted describing a decision of the court of appeal as a "judicial lynching." In June 1994 the defendants were collectively fined the equivalent of approximately $25,000. Fines were paid on behalf of Kariuki and the publishing company, but the two journalists served prison sentences of four and five months.

Four journalists with the Standard newspaper were charged with sedition in March, after publication of an article alleging that several people had died in renewed "tribal" violence in Rift Valley Province. The charges were later dropped. Journalists with the Daily Nation newspaper were also regularly harassed: in April charges of sedition, later dropped, were brought against the news editor in connection with an article about the violence; and in July the Australian training editor at Nation Newspapers was ordered to leave the country. Society and Finance magazines, two of the most prominent critics of the government during 1993, were silenced in 1994 as a result of multiple court cases (both criminal and civil), attacks on their printers, and the impounding of controversial editions.

Allegations of torture and ill-treatment in police custody continued to be routine in 1994. In September, following his release from prison, David Makali of The People announced that he intended to sue the state in connection with assaults on him by prison wardens. The accused in the Wamwere case similarly complained of ill-treatment. The killing of several street children by police reservists in Nairobi in July and August led to a public outcry; encouragingly and unusually, charges were made against the policeman responsible.

Two cases illustrated the lack of freedom of association in Kenya. University lecturers at Kenya's four universities continued the strike action begun in November 1993, in protest against infringements of academic freedom and the government's failure to allow registration of the University Academic Staff Union. Twenty-three lecturers were dismissed in January 1994 and evicted from staff housing. A court case for their reinstatement was dismissed following several public statements by President Moi attacking the lecturers. Clashes between students and police took place at various campuses, as students demanded the reinstatement of lecturers. Three thousand doctors at state-run hospitals went on strike in June, also in protest against the failure to register a union. They were fired in August and evicted from their housing, leaving hospitals without staff.

Although fewer serious incidents were reported than in 1993, political violence in the rural areas in the west of the country remained a serious problem. In late 1993 Human Rights Watch/Africa estimated that approximately 1,500 Kenyans were killed and perhaps as many as 300,000 internally displaced since the clashes began. Allegations of government promotion of violence between government-allied members of the Kalenjin or Maasai ethnic groups and members of the numerically dominant Kikuyu and Luo groups, verified in September 1992 by the report of a parliamentary committee made up of KANU members, continued to be made. The existence of several "security operation zones" (established in September 1993), where emergency-type regulations promulgated under the Preservation of Public Security Act gave the government extraordinary powers to limit access to outsiders and to enforce law and order. These measure prevented independent monitoring of security force behavior and did not prevent the outbreak of renewed clashes in late March 1994 in Burnt Forest and in September 1994 in Molo. Eyewitness reports described members of the security forces standing by while homes were attacked. No effort was made to investigate these allegations. Although no further major outbreaks of violence took place during the year, individual attacks continued and the security situation remained precarious in many areas.

The great majority of relief to the victims of the violence was carried out by church groups, principally the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Catholic church. Church members engaged in relief efforts or reporting on conditions in the clash areas were subject to official harassment. In January 1994 government officials ordered the demolition of a camp of 30,000 displaced people driven from their land by Maasais. Maasai local government minister William ole Ntimama warned of "war" in July if the 10,000 remaining at the camp were resettled on "Maasai" land. There was no public censure of his remarks. In September 1994 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reportedly stated that one third of an estimated total of 260,000 displaced had been resettled during the nine months of a joint UNDP/Kenyan government project. The UNDP also commended the Kenyan government for its efforts to halt the violence. Following a public outcry in which local relief organizations disputed these figures and challenged the assessment of the government's performance, UNDP accussed reporters of taking its statements out of context. The National Council of Churches estimated that no more than 5 percent of those estimated by UNDP to have returned to their homes had actually returned.

Political violence also affected Kenya's coastal cities, where the Islamic Party of Kenya (IPK), denied permission to register as a party for the December 1992 elections, clashed both with police and with a rival party, the United Muslims of Africa (UMA), set up by pro-KANU politicians apparently in an attempt to divide the allegedly Arab IPK from Muslims of African descent. In September the UMA declared a fatwa against IPK leader Sheikh Khalid Balala.

The situation in Kenya's North East province, along the border with Somalia, remained unstable. Local Somali-Kenyan bandits known as shiftas and Somali fighters continue to operate throughout the region, preying on local residents, refugees, and relief workers. The incidence of rape among Somali women living in refugee camps_the subject of critical reports from Human Rights Watch/Africa and African Rights_fell during the year after increased security measures were taken at the camps by the UNHCR, with the aid of funding from several sources, including the U.S. and the E.U.

The Right to Monitor

Although several Kenyan nongovernmental organizations engaged in monitoring human rights in Kenya operated during 1994, their members as well as individual lawyers defending those accused of political offenses were subject to official harassment. The security operation zones in which clashes occurred effectively prevented independent monitoring of security force behavior in preventing or instigating violence.

The charges against Koigi wa Wamwere appeared to be motivated by his activities in founding the National Democratic and Human Rights Organization in 1993 and in monitoring violence in the Rift Valley. Paul Muite, a prominent FORD-Kenya MP and lawyer acting for Wamwere, complained officially to the Director of State Intelligence and Security in June of constant security police surveillance. The government did permit several international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, as well as the International Bar Association and the Norwegian Bar Association, to attend the trial of Koigi wa Wamwere as international observers.

In September, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Johnstone Makau cautioned foreign correspondents based in Nairobi against publishing articles that negatively portrayed Kenya.

U.S. and International Policy

During 1994 U.S. policy toward Kenya continued to de-emphasize human rights concerns. Public statements by Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal and by visiting U.S. officials did not highlight abuses by the Kenyan government, in contrast to the outspoken criticism voiced by previous ambassador, Smith Hempstone.

The U.S. Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993, in its section on Kenya, released in February 1994, reported the "substantial evidence" of the complicity of high-level government officials in instigating the clashes, yet the ambassador or other senior officials did not publicly call for investigation of these allegations. On April 7, 1994, the day following the announcement of a curfew in one of the security operation zones, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose, visiting Kenya at that time, commended President Moi for taking "decisive curb the resurgence of ethnic violence" and failed to raise other serious concerns. In June 1994, after returning from a visit to the U.S. and a few days after the decision in the Kariuki case mentioned above, Ambassador Brazeal praised political and economic reforms, though "regretting" that permits to hold meetings were still being denied to some political groups and leaders. Brian Atwood, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), visiting Kenya in June, stated publicly that he was concerned about harassment of the opposition and ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley.

In November 1991 the consultative group of bilateral donors to Kenya suspended balance of payments support on governance, economic, and human rights grounds. This suspension was lifted at a consultative group meeting in November 1993, when $850 million of new aid was pledged in recognition of the "significant efforts of the government to reestablish an appropriate macroeconomic framework and initiate structural reforms." However, the aid was to be released in tranches, and the joint press release issued following the meeting called for the Kenyan government to take action to end the ethnic clashes and to show respect for basic freedoms of assembly and expression. In June 1994 the consultative group met again to review progress. Although further tranches of aid were released by bilateral donors, continuing concern was expressed at corruption, continuing ethnic violence, and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly.

The U.S. took part in the decision to suspend balance of payments support in November 1991, though it continued to provide development aid, totaling about $18 million a year, to nongovernmental organizations working in Kenya. USAID announced in April 1994 that it had programmed $20.2 million, including emergency food aid, in assistance during fiscal year 1994, for the relief of "clash" victims and to alleviate the effects of drought.

The Work of

Human Rights Watch/Africa

Several detailed letters were sent to President Moi throughout the year, protesting violations of due process in political trials and threats to the rights of freedom of expression and association. In June Human Rights Watch/Africa issued a special report to coincide with the White House conference on Africa. The report addressed human rights conditions and U.S. policy in ten countries, including Kenya, and made policy recommendations to the Clinton administration. In July, a report was issued on continuing rural violence and restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, to coincide with the meeting of the consultative group of donors. In September, a researcher traveled to refugee camps in North East Province, to investigate progress made by the UNHCR since the 1993 issue of a report on rape of Somali refugees.

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